Some new toys and new types of toys are created by accidental innovation. For example, after trying to create a replacement for synthetic rubber, Earl Warrick inadvertently invented “nutty putty” during World War II. Later, Peter Hodgson recognized the potential as a childhood plaything and packaged it as Silly Putty. Similarly, Play-Doh was created as a wallpaper cleaner. In 1943 Richard James was experimenting with springs as part of his military research when he saw one come loose and fall to the floor. He was intrigued by the way it flopped around on the floor. He spent two years fine-tuning the design to find the best gauge of steel and coil; the result was the Slinky, which went on to sell in stores throughout the United States.
Many successful films, television programs, books and sport teams have official merchandise, which often includes related toys. Some notable examples are Star Wars (a science fiction film series) and Arsenal, an English football club.
Promotional toys can fall into any of the other toy categories; for example they can be dolls or action figures based on the characters of movies or professional athletes, or they can be balls, yo-yos, and lunch boxes with logos on them. Sometimes they are given away for free as a form of advertising. Model aircraft are often toys that are used by airlines to promote their brand, just as toy cars and trucks and model trains are used by trucking, railroad and other companies as well. Many food manufacturers run promotions where a toy is included with the main product as a prize. Toys are also used as premiums, where consumers redeem proofs of purchase from a product and pay shipping and handling fees to get the toy. Some people go to great lengths to collect these sorts of promotional toys.
Some toys, such as Beanie Babies, attract large numbers of enthusiasts, eventually becoming collectibles. Other toys, such as Boyds Bears are marketed to adults as collectibles. Some people spend large sums of money in an effort to acquire larger and more complete collections. The record for a single Pez dispenser at auction, for example, is $1,100 U.S.
Playing with these sorts of toys allows children to exercise, building strong bones and muscles and aiding in physical fitness. Throwing and catching balls and frisbees can improve hand-eye coordination. Jumping rope, (also known as skipping) and playing with foot bags can improve balance.
The oldest known mechanical puzzle comes from Greece and appeared in the 3rd century BC. The game consists of a square divided into 14 parts, and the aim was to create different shapes from these pieces. In Iran “puzzle-locks” were made as early as the 17th century AD. In 1742 Japan there is a mention of a game called “Sei Shona-gon Chie No-Ita” in a book. Around the year 1800 the Tangram puzzle from China became popular, and 20 years later it had spread through Europe and America. The company Richter from Rudolstadt began producing large amounts of Tangram-like puzzles of different shapes, the so-called “Anker-puzzles”.
Puzzles were greatly fashionable towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The first patents for puzzles were recorded at this time. In 1893 professor Hoffman wrote a book called “Puzzles Old and New”. It contained, amongst other things, more than 40 descriptions of puzzles with secret opening mechanisms. This book grew into a reference work for puzzle games and modern copies exist for those interested.
With the invention of materials easy to shape such as plastic, the range of puzzle possibilities grew. Rubik’s Cube, arguably the most famous puzzle worldwide, would not be possible without modern polymers.
A puzzle is a problem or enigma that challenges ingenuity. Solutions to puzzle may require recognizing patterns and creating a particular order. People with a high inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving these puzzles than others. Puzzles based on the process of inquiry and discovery to complete may be solved faster by those with good deduction skills.
The history of puzzles goes back many thousands of years.
There are many different types of puzzles, for example a maze is a type of tour puzzle. Other categories include; construction puzzles, stick puzzles, tiling puzzles, transport puzzles, disentanglement puzzles, sliding puzzles, logic puzzles, picture puzzles, lock puzzles and mechanical puzzles.
Children have played with miniature versions of vehicles since ancient times, with toy two-wheeled carts being depicted on ancient Greek vases. Wind-up toys have also played a part in the advancement of toy vehicles. Modern equivalents include toy cars such as those produced by Matchbox or Hot Wheels, miniature aircraft, toy boats, military vehicles, and trains. Examples of the latter range from wooden sets for younger children such as BRIO to more complicated realistic train models like those produced by Lionel, Doepke and Hornby. Larger die-cast vehicles, 1:18 scale, have become popular toys; these vehicles are produced with a great attention to detail.
A doll is a model of a human (often a baby), a humanoid (like Bert and Ernie), or an animal. Modern dolls are often made of cloth or plastic. Other materials that are, or have been, used in the manufacture of dolls include cornhusks, bone,stone, wood, porcelain (sometimes called china), bisque, celluloid, wax, and even apples. Often people will make dolls out of whatever materials are available to them.
Sometimes intended as decorations, keepsakes, or collectibles for older children and adults, most dolls are intended as toys for children, usually girls, to play with. Dolls have been found in Egyptian tombs which date to as early as 2000 BC.
Dolls are usually miniatures, but baby dolls may be of true size and weight. A doll or stuffed animal of soft material is sometimes called a plush toy orplushie. A popular toy of this type is the Teddy Bear.
A distinction is often made between dolls and action figures, which are generally of plastic or semi-metallic construction and poseable to some extent, and often are merchandising from television shows or films which feature the characters. Modern action figures, such as Action Man, are often marketed towards boys, whereas dolls are often marketed towards girls.
Toy soldiers, perhaps a precursor to modern action figures, have been a popular toy for centuries. They allow children to act out battles, often with toy military equipment and a castle or fort. Miniature animal figures are also widespread, with children perhaps acting out farm activities with animals and equipment centered around a toy farm.
The Greek philosopher Plato wrote that the future architect should play at building houses as a child. A construction set is a collection of separate pieces that can be joined together to create models. Popular models to make include cars, spaceships, and houses. The things that are built are sometimes used as toys once completed, but generally speaking, the object is to build things of one’s own design, and old models often are broken up and the pieces reused in new models.
The oldest and, perhaps most common construction toy is a set of simple wooden blocks, which are often painted in bright colors and given to babies and toddlers. Construction sets such as Lego bricks and Lincoln Logs are designed for slightly older children and have been quite popular in the last century. Construction sets appeal to children (and adults) who like to work with their hands, puzzle solvers, and imaginative sorts.
Toys, like play itself, serve multiple purposes in both humans and animals. They provide entertainment while fulfilling an educational role. Toys enhance cognitive behavior and stimulate creativity. They aid in the development of physical and mental skills which are necessary in later life.
One of the simplest toys, a set of simple wooden blocks is also one of the best toys for developing minds. Andrew Witkin, director of marketing for Mega Brands told Investor’s Business Daily that, “They help develop hand-eye coordination, math and science skills and also let kids be creative.” Other toys like Marbles, jackstones, and balls serve similar functions in child development, allowing children to use their minds and bodies to learn about spatial relationships, cause and effect, and a wide range of other skills as well as those mentioned by Mr. Witkin.